Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Mockingjay: Capitol Couture

Went to see Mockingjay with friends and had to dress up for the occasion. I'm with the districts, of course, but costume-wise I find it a lot more tempting to dress up as an overpriveleged child-murderer exquisitely dressed Capitol fashionista.

In the movies, Capitol clothing is very sculptural and extravagant, tailored deliciosusly close to the body. I wanted to keep a sense of haute couture instead of making a costume, so I aimed for something tightfitting with unusual details.

I bought a black organza skirt and a tight, tight velvet dress second hand and combined them. The dress was very tight, so I had to add a gore to be able to fit it over my hips. Look closely under the organza - the gore fabric is a rubbery pleather type thing that stands out against the red velvet. (I thought it a nice detail, even if it barely shows. 

While I was working, I realised having a mannequin is the best thing ever. It's not always easy to fit anything when you're wearing it.

Here I've pinned the dress onto one of the mannequins at school, just playing around with different details.

I was in love with the hip-detail from the left picture, but when I removed the dress from the mannequin, the needles fell out and after three failed attempts at recreating it, I decided to go for some big fucking rosettes instead. (More is more.)

Pinterest was life-saving while searching for inspiration. I found these tights, and made a sort-of copy with flatbacked rhinestones and beads. The best way to get the rhinestones on was to glue them on while wearing the tights. Glue+hairy legs is not the best combination on any day, and the textile adhesive I used didn't wash off with water, so I walked around with glue on my legs for a few days. Very much haute couture.

I'll post better pics when I get them.
In addition to the dress and tights, I forced my feet into shoes without heels from Bianco, wrangled my hair into submission, used more makeup than I usually go through in six months and even bothered with fake eyelashes (without gluing my eyes shut, go me). I painted my hands black seeing as some Capitol people dye their skin,. (Using waterbased makeup for my hands was not the best idea ever, when we stepped outside, it started raining.)

But so much worth it. The dress doubled as Christmas dress and the movie - just fantastic.

Friday, 5 December 2014


All t3h pink.
One of my next projects would have made fourteen year old goth me reach for matches to kill the thing with fire. If anyone's wondering what costume the pink garters are for, here's the answer.

The gown is used by Carlotta Guidicelli in the 2004 movie Phantom of the Opera, while they're performing the fictional opera Il Muto.

I'm going to build this monster slowly, because with all the sewing I do for school, I'm pretty sure I won't have much time for my own projects. (If anyone sees my crying in a corner I'm 110% sure this is gonna be the reason.)

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Tutorial: Dwarf boot covers

Someone asked me about how I'd made my dwarf lady boots, so I documented the process when I made new show covers. The construction is super easy, but I'll explain everything in case there is anyone who haven't worked with foam before.

This is the second time I'm making new covers, so be aware that since they are made from foam, they won't last forever. But they are cheap and pretty easy to make. My last pair lasted four days through intense wear and tear, and if you're careful with them, they'll last longer.

I found my base shoes second hand, so I can't tell you where to get them, sorry.

Before you start, stuff your boots with newspaper or something so they keep their shape while you're working. Put masking tape where you want the cover to go. Draw your design (or just copy mine). Try to get it symmetrical.

This is my pattern. You can cut it out in paper or cardboard if you know you are going to make them more than once. As for me, I appreciate the masking tape pattern that sticks to the foam while I'm cutting it.

Cut out your pattern in foam. You might want to add some "seam allowance" to the parts that will overlap. You can always trim it later. Try your pattern on the shoe to make sure it fits.

This was my first pair that died really quickly. Boo, pink foam.
Notice that I am using BLACK FOAM. I am a clutz and I know that I will mange to scuff the paint off them no matter what. But when the foam is black, the scuff marks show less and the shoes just look like they've been trekking through Middle-Earth (authentic!) and I don't get bullied by nasty Elves for having neon pink spots on my shoes. 

Dwarves seem to like geometrical details. Create interest with texture and patterns. I have carved details into the foam with a pen. It's also possible to add raised detail with puffy paint or extra foam parts.

The pattern I've used on top of the shoe is from Thorin's dwarven sword. The sides are decorated with norse bindrunes. There are loads of Dwarven patterns to take inspiration from.

Glue on a clean surface - clean the shoes if they've been used outside. Scratch the surface of the shoes with f. ex. sanding paper to give the glue extra purchase. There are loads of different glues to choose from - if you're using contact adhesive, do yourself a favour and choose the less toxic kind that doesn't give you cancer. If you're using hot glue, make sure to use only a thin layer of glue so that it doesn't show through the foam. Here I've used school glue 'cause that was all I had lying around.

Foam is too porous to paint, so you'll have to seal it with watered down glue.

If you haven't used black foam, now is a good time to paint the whole thing black, just to have an even primer. Dwarf-boots usually have covers in metal or leather, so that's what you want to mimic. When painting props I usually paint the whole thing in a base colour and add shadows around raised details before I distress/age it.

And this is what they look like after a day at con.
(Exhausted dwarf cosplayer not shown.)
Paint until you're satisfied, let dry and then you're ready to kick some Elf butt! (Though, be ready to run away from offended Elves. Mahal, it's a good thing we Dwarves are natural sprinters.)


Sunday, 9 November 2014

Wagner valkyrie, so far

The shield is still a work in progress. I have finished the woodwork without shedding more blood. Now it needs covering, shield boss and some decoration.

The deerskin I planned to cover it with is too small. So I'll have to decide whether to piece it together so it covers the whole thing or to just cover it with something else, linen perhaps. Decisions...

Made a new headpiece because I wasn't pleased with the first one.

The arm bracer was the last thing I made before I left home for school and studying. I continued my saga of pilfering Tolkien's world for decoration: the tree is this Telperion with the roots of the Tree of Gondor. So far, this is my favourite thing I've made with foam.

The armour parts are finished, I just need to glue on a few leather straps so they're wearable. I think I'll repaint the pauldron - it as the first thing I made and it shows (later I figured out that drybrushing i the answer on how to make the gold paint look like real metal).

And at last, because I was at home when I worked with this - look at this pretty kitteh who stalks the garden at home. So pretty.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Viking embroidery

Embroidery is one of the things I'd really like to get better at, so when I was stuck in the middle of nowhere with nothing else to do, I used the time to practise.

The pattern I chose was a wolf, but with the stylized design and the colours I chose, the result didn't turn out very... wolf-ish. So I've decided that these are vicious viking corgies. Don't laugh, they are really bloodthirsty.

I've started on another one. I'm calling this pattern Wolf contortionist is stuck and would like some help, don't just stand there. 

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Adventures in dy(e)ing


Decided to use the dwarf lady costume for Desucon Japan and quickly realised I had my work cut out for me the moment I remembered that someone had thrown/given away 30% of the costume due to moving house and simply not being pleased with some of the costume parts.

The first part I've finished is this linen shirt (handsewn, with linen thread because it will find its way into my viking wardrobe once I am finished crying after the last Hobbit movie).

I've hoarded onion peel for about six months with plans of trying natural dyeing. Once I had finished the shirt I decided no time's like the present and set to work.

Here are two test swatches. Undyed linen underneath, swatch #1 is dyed with yellow onions, swatch #2 has red onions added to the dye. Fixative is vinegar. 

Thoughts I got while dyeing:
can you dye with blood...?
The shirt was too big for the pot I had boiled the dye in, so I had to put it in a larger container and mix the dye with more water to cover the shirt. Before I put it in, the shirt had been soaked in vinegar and water for a couple of hours, to get rid of chemicals from when I pre-washed the fabricand and to prep the shirt for dyeing.

This was my first time using vinegar as a fixative, so to be sure the dye wouldn't just wash out, I added half a kilo of salt to the mix and let everything sit overnight. The first four hours I turned over the shirt every now and then, to avoid uneven colouring.

The colours are a bit stronger in real life than in this pic.
... of course diluted red dye turns pink-ish. I'll have to wear a woolen sweater on top of this, because the colours clash with the rest of the costume. I've managed to swallow my pride and have decided to look upon the whole thing as a learning experience. On the positive side, the shirt is colourfast, even in the washer. (I had to give it a quick spin to get rid of the stench of vinegar and onions...)

Until next time I've hopefully learned a thing or two like, putting the shirt in the dye while it's still in the pot and then keep the whole thing warm for a while, using gloves (because in addition to reddish hands, vinegar and salt are not things you want on your hands when you're owned by a vicious cat beast who has made you bleed recently...), and that more onions=more dye=stronger colour.

And at last, a tip from my grandpa: if you have used one of grandma's pots to make dye in and in the process managed to dicolour it, you can scrub the pan with fine, fine sandpaper. Works wonders! 

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Garters for a prima donna

This is a hint for one of the costumes I'll be making over fall and winter. It's very big and very pink, and that's all I'm going to say for now. I won't really need garters, because they won't show, but I wanted them nevertheless.

Rococo garters are simple to make. There are several examples with embroidered phrases, from poetry to cheeky quotes. I found inspiration in this tutorial and laughed heartily when I found this geeky one. However I sewed the embroidered panel directly on top of the satin band to avoid seams that could unravel easily.

Cotton emrboidery thread and fabric, satin band in polyester, sewing thread in silk.
I had to improvise a little - my embroidery hoop lies waiting for me at my aunt's,
half the country away.

It's a sad thing to confess to, but I'm a sucker for small projects that give instant gratification. This took me a couple of hours, and now they only need a little ironing to get rid of the pin holes left in the fabric, and they're ready to go!

Monday, 15 September 2014

Gjallarstadir Viking Market

I moved into student housing in Oslo a few weeks ago and as chance would have it, the person in charge of the house I live in happens not only to be a fellow viking - he belongs to the same viking group I've just joined. There are vikings popping up everywhere around me, and it's amazing. Yay for friends I won't bore with my talk of VIKINGS!

Gjallarstadir was the most relaxed market I've been to so far. I got to say hello to a few of my new vikings (and then hide from them because they were scary...).

My viking clothes arrived at my new place the day before market. I celebrated the 
end of this painful separation by wearing all. of. the. jewellery.

I'd brought a civilian to the market and we originally planned to leave when it closed around six. But a few minutes before closing time, we happened to meet a few people we sat down with and we ended up not leaving before half past eight, after sharing mead, sausages, stories and I got to pet their dog. I'm a shy person, so whenever I start talking with strangers out of nowhere it's like magic.

A lot of the viking enthusiasts my age come to markets only during opening times, and it's so sad. The viking fun happens when the normal people are gone - the mood at market after closing time is the best thing ever and I can't explain it, it's a thing that has to be experienced.

brb joining the Night's Watch.

Gjallarstadir was the last market for this season and since many of the foreign sellers pack up shop now, I got an enormous sheepskin for 600 NOK. Bargain! I named it Børre and it's super floofy! I just hope it'll stop smelling like sheep so I can stand to snuggle in it. Hopefully I can sleep on it next time I camp at market.

This is my first market where I haven't bought shiny pretties or sewing stuff. This time my loot consists of food and a few rabbit furs from a nice seller. The sausage is hand-made, with moose and deer meat and chantarelles. Heaven. And that piece of meat is dried horsemeat.

In addition I bought some cherry honey for autumn tea and a dried reindeer heart that I gifted to my civilian as thanks for driving me to market. I can't start to say how pleased I am with the fact that I was able to give away a dried heart as heartfelt thanks and not have the recipient freak out. (She's a really cool lady.)

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Dwarf lady

In April I had a tiny photoshoot with Sylvilel, one of my roomies. There have been some changes in my costume since December - I donated my armbracers to the cinema because I had a fit of I-HATE-THESE-THINGS-I-MADE... my comfy dwarf-sweater was left with a friend of mine that lives in Oslo and I haven't gotten around to restyling the beard after I rinsed it for glue.

Please ignore the houses in the background and the fact that I am shamefully beardless, and instead feast yer eyes on my beautiful sledgehammer.

I know I am a nightmare to work with because I only stand still like two seconds at a time, and I'm easily distracted by EVERYTHING. Sylvilel is an incredibly patient photographer.

I am very pleased with how the sledgehammer turned out. I lost count over how many times I painted and repainted it, but the time was well spent, it tricked a hobby smith into thinking it was real.

My preciousss.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Valkyrie crown & shield

The headdress has been shaped and painted. Later I'm adding wings and an elastic band around the back so that it'll actually stay on my head. (I'll just cover it with my hair when worn.) I might also redo the bird centrepiece. It was supposed to look like a stylised raven, but I don't know how well that worked out.

The wings were drying while I packed in blind panic the night before leaving.
This is as far as I got on the wings before I had to leave for Oslo and school. I'll finish it in October, I have a week off and I think I'm going home.

The pauldron won't stay on by itself, so I had plans of a belt going over my chest, as well as a few magnets I'll fasten to the armoured bodice. I found a nice belt in my grandparent's basement. It was a bit worn, so I added some eyelets to it. If you're in Norway, stay away from the eyelets at Biltema. It's a reason why they're cheap.

These will be glued to the pauldon where the belt is fastened to it. 

Down south where I live now, I've just barely started on the Valkyrie's shield. So far I've made a paper pattern to follow. The white roll on the picture is a deerskin I got at Borre Vikingmarked - it's going on top of the wood, but before that happens, I'll have to figure out a way to soften it a little.

Oww :(
The woodwork whent swimmingly for about thirty minutes and then everything went all bloody wrong and I barely escaped getting stitches. Never whittle towards yourself. I should know this by now.

(At least a bloody shield is period correct...)